Our love of kitchen appliances and gadgets: Ortis Deley talks FadTech

7th July 2023

“FadTech” – the trendy kitchen appliances that take the nation by storm, like blenders, air fryers, slow cookers, milk frothers and more. But what do we do with these kitchen gadgets when we no longer need them? TV presenter and host of The Gadget Show Ortis Deley delves into why we are obsessed with these kitchen gadgets, where these trends come from, and how to recycle kitchen appliances when they are past their sell-by date.

Written by: Ortis Deley

We’ve all got used to the idea that some electricals need to go to a good home when we’re done with them: old smartphones, for example. When we upgrade, we wipe our old phone and pass it on to family or friends, make some cash by selling it on or, if it’s no longer in good working order, recycle it. 

Rarely has this conversation involved other tech items though, especially kitchen tech. Enter: FadTech. 

FadTech are those trendy electrical items bought during a wave of interest. Think: popcorn machines, blenders and chocolate fountains. 

However, according to Recycle Your Electricals research, an estimated 18.2million now lie gathering dust in kitchen cupboards across the country. We’ve all done it – buying something we thought we’d use all the time and then realising we’ve not used it as we’d hoped. Or, used it SO much it’s now ready to be upgraded and retired!

FadTech purchases follow trends. The Top 20 includes popular faves such as the breadmaker, ice-cream maker and juicer; surprise items like the cake pop maker and electric coffee cup; and items more at home in the 70s or 80s, including the hostess trolley, teasmade and electric plate warmer. I bet if you have a look around your kitchen, you’ve got some FadTech!

So FadTech is a real thing, but why does it exist? Well, we all love to belong to a trend. We’re all attracted by saving time or money, getting healthier or impressing everyone with our culinary creations, too! And of course, this can get supercharged with expert or celebrity endorsements. 

It’s not just a connection to a movement. Tech trends can skyrocket due to economic changes. The air fryer is the latest to join the FadTech pantheon. Rocketing sales have been driven by escalating energy prices. You can whip up fish fingers for tea or a whole Sunday roast more quickly and for a smaller electricity bill.  

In fact, towards the end of 2022, such was the demand for this new trend, they became very difficult to get hold of. Manufacturers couldn’t get them into the country quickly enough! If a gadget is going to positively impact your cost of living, why wouldn’t you buy it?! Recycle Your Electricals research has found that 40% of UK households now own one. Right now, it looks like the air fryer is fast-becoming a mainstream item, like a kettle or toaster.

Another huge factor determining FadTech trends is what’s happening in the wider world. During the first lockdown, Brits became obsessed with baking – with banana bread leading the charge. Sales of breadmakers went through the roof. Bread had become a staple that was difficult to get hold of, so many of us wanted to bake our own flavoursome yet healthy loaves. 

Novelty value is a big-driver for FadTech too. Items like the candy floss maker and popcorn machine just scream “I always wanted one when I was a kid!”. Watching candyfloss being spun onto a stick or watching those big popcorn machines at the cinema was quite the spectacle when I was a child. Their peak sales more recently most likely coincided with a rising trend in having them at children’s parties (popcorn was a hugely popular goodie bag filler). These novelty item trends often seem to burn bright and then burn out. 

Demand for cake pop makers reached critical mass around three years after their invention in 2008. The level of creativity and artistry made the cake pop the perfect subject for photos, and this was a perfect storm with 2012’s surge in Instagram users. 

Some FadTech items are less about novelty and more about nostalgia. I was surprised the teasmade enjoyed a resurgence in 2020, but with so many working from home, I can see the short-lived appeal.  A similar thing seems to have happened with the electric plate warmer – supper clubs began increasing in popularity during the mid noughties and Google searches peaked in 2006.

I’m a gadget fan, so of course I’ve had my fair share of FadTech and FadTech Fails. I bought a spiralizer because I wanted to eat healthily. Courgette spaghetti was everywhere in 2016, in restaurants, on people’s socials and the telly! I used my spiralizer for a good 3-4 months before returning to pasta. It wasn’t hard to use, but cleaning the components became a chore. And don’t get me started on my juicer…

Fads or ‘for keeps’?

Some kitchen electricals have managed to eschew the rigours of time and ebb & flow of tech trends. These are the trusty kettle, microwave, and toaster. They’ve managed to go from novelty to everyday. There is a daily need for tea and coffee – indeed, tea is the very cornerstone of Britishness; we are a nation of leftover lovers and warmer-uppers too, so the microwave is ideal for catering to those quirks, and well, who doesn’t love a round of toast? 

But why have we fallen out of love with some kitchen electricals? Despite their current popularity, there are nearly half a million air fryers in UK homes doing nothing but taking up cupboard space and enough breadmakers gathering dust to reach from here to Paris…and back again!

We often hold on to things because we feel a just-in-case connection to them, even though the likelihood is they’ll never be used regularly again. They’re not cheap, either, so it can feel wasteful to get rid of them. But my advice is don’t feel guilty. 

Someone else might really benefit from some FadTech in good condition or, if they’re ready to be recycled, fantastic new items like life-saving defibrillators can be created from them. Have a good clear out and think about the second life you could give to these items by donating or recycling them – and the space you could reclaim in your kitchen!

So Fish out Your Fad Tech and remember:

  • Whatever you do, DO NOT BIN THEM!
  • Donate (or sell) them if they’re in good condition or otherwise, recycle them
  • Anything with a plug, battery or cable can be recycled
  • And where you can recycle kitchen appliances near you? Type your postcode into our locator and you’re probably less than 15 mins away from giving your FadTech a fab new lease of life!
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